Friday, June 21, 2013
Ranking the NBA Finals Game 7s
I was born in 1975, so there have been seven Game 7s in my NBA lifetime. Although the Sonics-Bullets series was a bit before my understanding, I will rate how well these Game 7s were played.
One of the themes in Game 7s is sloppy play and bad shooting. It is a combination of good defense and tight offensive play.
#7 1984-CELTICS vs LAKERS: While the Lakers-Celtics rivalry of the 1980s was great as a whole, this lone Game 7 they were in was a bit dud-ish. Cedric Maxwell was the man for the C's and not Hall Of Famers Bird, Parish, McHale or Dennis Johnson (those four combined for 68 points, but did so on 19-for-53 shooting). For the Lakers, Kareem was huge with 29 points, but Magic Johnson had a bad shooting night and 7 turnovers. While not a blowout, this one didn't have that close feeling.
#6 2010-LAKERS vs CELTICS: This game was close with two of the NBA's glamor franchises going at it. But it wasn't a very well played game. Boston held a 13-pt lead at one point, but poor shooting allowed the Lakers to come back. Kobe Bryant, the Finals MVP, shot just 6-for-24 for the night, but was huge in the 4th quarter. Still, not the greatest capper to a really good series.
#5 1978-BULLETS vs SONICS: I obviously don't remember this series. But, reading the recap, it seems as this one was a pretty good one. This was the only time in my life that a road team won a Game 7 in the Finals. Neither team was great during the season (Seattle was a 4-seed; Washington was a 3-seed). This series followed the same format as the one you just watched: Seattle won games 1, 3 and 5 like the Spurs did with Washington winning game 2, 4, 6 and 7 like the Heat. Okay, on to the actual Game 7.
Game 7 took play 18 days after Game 1 as the NBA stretched the series out (it is the longest postseason series in actual time of the major sports). Dennis Johnson, like he did for the Celtics in 1984, had a bad game. He was 0-for-14 from the field. The Bullets came into the 4th with a 13-point lead, but nearly coughed it up. Big plays down the stretch by Mitch Kupchak and Wes Unseld clinched the win.
#4 2005-SPURS vs PISTONS: This is what you want: a tie game going into the 4th quarter. The Spurs would win by 7, but it was the run they went on that did it. The Pistons held a 9-pt lead in the 3rd before Tim Duncan led San Antonio out of the fire. He was big with 25 points and 12 boards. As the theme goes, the Pistons were bad in this one. Rip Hamilton led them in scoring with just 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting (Tayshawn Prince went 4-of-13). Detroit shot just 41.9% for the game. The Spurs weren't much better, shooting 42.6% (Duncan's big night came on 10-of-27 shooting).
#3 1994-ROCKETS vs KNICKS: When we talk about bad shooting Game 7s, John Starks tops the list. His horrid 2-of-18 shooting night against the Rockets is largely blamed by fans as the reason New York lost this series. But everyone seemed to shoot poorly (NY went 39% in this one). However, this game was close all the way through and featured the last great big man Finals battle in Olajawon and Ewing so that ranks it pretty high.
#2 2013-HEAT vs SPURS: A very, very good game. It was close throughout with with Tim Duncan missing a hook shot and tip in late to tie the game. LeBron James was dominant with 37 points and 12 boards. Neither team really got out to a huge lead and there were huge plays down the stretch by James and Shane Battier.
#1 1988-LAKERS vs PISTONS: What a game and what a series. Unlike most of the games on this list, bad shooting wasn't a factor. The Pistons shot 46% while the Lakers shot an amazing 55.8%. This was a game of runs. Detroit got off early with Isiah Thomas and led at the half by five. The Lakers then went off with Michael Cooper raining threes and led 90-75 late. Then, the Pistons caught fire and made a huge comeback (25-12 run) to get within a bucket. The Lakers gave them opportunites but Detroit just couldn't get over. Big Game James Worthy had 36 pts, 16 rbs and 10 ast.
Brought to you by the Sportz Assassin at 12:17 PM